By Eric Pehowic
The Daily Item
— Hopefully you are all sipping from a championship trophy this week. Some of you, I figure, still have a dog or two in the fight, if not several daily fantasy lineups to set.
Standard ESPN leagues run a two-week championship on Week 16 and Week 17.
It’s important to keep in mind that some teams, on either end of the spectrum, have nothing to play for this week.
We’ll see some superstar veterans grab a clipboard if they get out to a lead. Other teams, with an eye toward a brighter future, will give some inexperienced players opportunities to impress.
It’s also important to note which teams need to win to get in, because they might be playing with a little extra juice.
There are tons of scenarios. So many that I can’t touch on them all here, but here are a few notes going into this week:
Aaron Rodgers cleared to play
The Packers QB doesn’t have time to show rust. The Packers need to beat the Bears to win the division and qualify for the playoffs. Chicago has been the sixth-most difficult opponent for opposing quarterbacks to score fantasy points against in the last five weeks. Upgrade wider receivers Jordy Nelson and James Jones with Rodgers under center
Kyle Orton could start in place of Tony Romo
Unless Romo can recover from a herniated disk, Orton will make his first start as a Cowboy on Sunday against the Eagles in a winner-takes-all game to decide the NFC East. Both the Eagles and Cowboys are good matchups for opposing quarterbacks. We can’t trust Orton to win the game, but he’s throwing to Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. If he’s even remotely accurate and can minimize mistakes, he could be a waiver wire steal and a minimum-priced daily fantasy sports value.
Start Eddie Lacy against the Bears
While the matchup isn’t particularly good for the Packers QB, running back Lacy is facing the defense that running backs have trampled over the most over the last five weeks. They’ve allowed 20-point games to running backs in eight-of-16 weeks. Big time play here in daily fantasy sports.
Steelers passing game will erupt vs. Cleveland
The Steelers, who started 0-4, are still in the hunt. They need to win and face a Browns defense which has allowed the third most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers in the last five weeks. They have to dread facing the Ben Roethlisberger-Antonio Brown. But it’s the supporting cast -- Emmanuel Sanders and Jericho Cotchery – who could be available on waivers and could offer that lottery ticket value in daily fantasy. The Browns have been middle-of-the-road against opposing running backs over the same stretch, making LeVeon Bell another good option.
Pay the price in DFS for Vernon Davis
Which tight end is facing Arizona? That’s one of the weekly question daily fantasy owners have asked themselves this year. Vernon Davis went off for 30 points against Arizona earlier in this season and should be a lock to meet his floor with a high probability of punching a hole in his ceiling.
Embrace the Giants volatility
I know. We can’t put any faith in the Giants. Well, they won last week. And last season they blew out the Eagles in Andy Reid’s final game. Everybody knew Reid was toast, just like everyone knows Mike Shanahan is toast in Washington. The Giants have been so poor they are values across the board at just about every daily fantasy site. You need to hit on a few lotto tickets to claim a big tournament win. The Giants could provide a couple this week.
Peyton Manning may only play a half, start him anyway
Manning needs 266 yards passing to break another passing record this season. He could have it, and four touchdowns, by halftime against the Raiders. And if the game is close, he could keep racking up points. No team in either conference has home field advantage locked up yet.